The First Battle of the Marne & the End of the Schlieffen Plan

Combatants at 1st Marne-2

The first Battle of the Marne was fought from 5-12 September, 1914.  It was the turning point of the opening campaign in what would be known as the Western Front during World War I.  First Marne represented the death of German hopes for a repeat of 1870 and ensured that Germany would have to face every German planner’s nightmare for over a century, a two front war. The Schlieffen Plan was supposed to allow Germany to defeat her two great enemies, France and Russia, one after the other in sequence.  The greatest flaw in the Schlieffen Plan was actually the plan itself.  It was an attempt to move huge masses … Read more…

The Battle of Messines Ridge – 1917

Messines 5

From the opening months of the World War I, Flanders was the decisive sector for the British Army.  It was in an around the medieval Belgian town of Ypres that the original BEF had decimated themselves fending off German attacks from October to December, 1914.  Ypres and the salient surrounding it was where the British would see the hardest and most prolonged fighting of all the places where the British would fight in World War I. The Battle of Messines Ridge fought from 7-14 June, 1914 was not really a separate battle at all but rather the opening phase of what would come to be known variously as the Third … Read more…

Book Review: The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 1940-1945 by Richard Overy

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 1940-1945 is one of those books that is going to end up a standard work for a long time to come.  It is the single most comprehensive history of the Allied bombing of Germany and occupied Europe during WWII that I have seen since the strategic bombing survey published by the US government in the immediate post-war years. I have a review copy of the book so the page counts may be a … Read more…

Book Review: No End Save Victory by David Kaiser

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War is one of those books that at first glance looks like it is going to be one of those dry, difficult to read history books that is nothing more than a litany of dates and facts.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is an interesting and compelling account of the events in America during the 18 months prior to American entry into WWII.  Oddly, this period is mentioned in every … Read more…

Book Review: Verdun – The Longest Battle of the Great War by Paul Jankowski

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War is one of the flood of new works coming out about World War I this year in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the world’s first truly mechanized war.  This book explores the ten month (or eleven, depending on how you count it) battle of Verdun between the Germans and French from February to November 1916. It consists of eleven chapters arranged thematically that examine different aspects of the battle from the operational … Read more…

Book Review: A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawro

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Dr. Geoffrey Wawro is the first book I have read about WWI that does not treat Austro-Hungary as an afterthought after the outbreak of the fighting in August 1914.  In fact, Austria-Hungary and the course of the fighting in Serbia and Galicia in the first year of the war is the central theme of the book.  Dr. Wawro applies his usual exhaustive research methods to exploring … Read more…

WWII Animated Day-by-Day

Below is an animated map of the progress of WWII day by day from 1 September, 1939 to October, 1945 when the last major units of the Japanese military surrendered.  It provides a fascinating view of the way in which the fortunes of the went back and forth.

Book Review: The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge by Werner Otto Müller-Hill is one of those rare books that come out of war.  A diary written by someone to satisfy themselves with no expectation that it will ever get published.  As such, it provides an almost unique view into the mind of the person writing it.  The vast majority of war memoirs are self-serving and written to make a point.  Diaries tend to be less so, and this one … Read more…

Barbarossa/Eatern Front Timeline in WWII

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Over the past few days I have had an email conversation with Mr. George Toomes, one of my readers, and he brought up a very interesting question. It started with asking if I had or knew where to find a map of the Russian counter-attack outside Moscow in the winter of 1941. In a follow up he mentioned that he was trying to get an idea of when and where the Germans and Russians stopped in their various offensives and counter-offensives in the war in the East. I don’t think I have ever seen a video or graphic that lays out the back and forth of the eastern front in … Read more…

Book Review: July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin

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I have probably read 30-40 books exploring the origins of World War I in the past 5-6 years and I thought that just about everything relevant there was to be known about the events of the month leading up to the war were known and historians have just been stirring the ashes and finding trivia in trying to determine a more accurate chain of causation. July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin disabused me of that notion.  This work has made me aware of several things about the critical month between the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the outbreak of World War I that I am amazed have not … Read more…

Book Review: Dresden: A Survivor’s Story by Victor Gregg

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Victor Gregg’s Dresden: A Survivor’s Story is a short work describing the author’s experience as  POW who got caught in Dresden in February, 1945 when the Allies bombed the city in what would become known as the Firebombing of Dresden.  The attack essentially destroyed the city center and killed an estimated 25,000 German’s.  Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the attacks that also discusses the controversy surrounding them that has grown up since the war.  To sum up the controversy, general anti-war people claim they were a crime and … Read more…

Stasi Museum – Leipzig, Germany

Mural of the Coat of Arms of the (Minsitry for State Security) Stasi just inside the entrance to the building.

The Stasi Museum in Leipzig, Germany.  For those who have never heard of it, the Stasi was the East German Little brother to the Russian NKVD internal security Secret Police.  The Stasi maintained a network of informers within both East and West Germany during the Cold War and also maintained dossiers on almost every German, even many in the West.  In East Germany (GDR) the Stasi was the government organ responsible for internal security and ferreting out dissidents to the regime.  They did this by doing some things that made the  Nazi Gestapo look like amateurs. Below are some of the photos I took in our hasty tour of the museum before it closed.  

Battle of the Nations Monument – Leipzig, Germany

View of the monument across the reflecting poll in front of it.  The water in the reflecting poll is pretty muddy, which kind of ruins the effect.  The crane from renovation blocks portions of the view as well.

I had the opportunity to visit Leipzig this past weekend and while there stopped briefly by the monument to the 1813 Battle of the Nations from the Napoleonic Wars.  At the Battle of the Nations the Sixth Coalition consisting of Prussia, Britain, Russia, and Austria fought the French Army of Napoleon and over the course of three days defeated him and forced him to retreat back to France. I only had about 20 minutes at the monument and Leipzig is on my list of places to see again as one day was not enough to see all that I wanted to see.  The monument is currently undergoing renovation in preparation for events surrounding the 200th anniversary of the Battle next year. It is … Read more…

Sudeten Deutsch Memorial

Bahnhof-Plaque-Bayreuth

Saw this interesting little bit of history this morning and figure I would take a photo. This has less to do with warfare itself than with the aftermath of war. This is a plaque dedicated to the role that Bayreuth, Germany played in the resettlement of ethnic Germans in the wake of the mass expulsion of these people from their homes in Eastern Europe after Germany’s defeat in WWII. Their is a good piece with a brief history of post war ethnic movements in Europe by the BBC Here: Article

MY transaltion of the plaque below is:

No More War or Expulsions

from February to October 1946 the Bayreuth Main Train Station hosted 33 Cargo trains containing 39,281 expellees from the Sudetenland.

The city and county are thankful for the reception

Sudeten German Organisation July 2010

War Memorial in the town where I live

The town in Germany where I live has what is actually a rarity among German war memorials.   It has a memorial to the dead of the Franco-Prussian War.   Of course, they have the obligatory WWI and II memorial like every self respecting German town that calls itself a town.   Most do not have Franco-Prussian War memorials though, in all my travels throughout Germany over 12+years I have only seen a few memorials to the Franco Prussian War.   The one where I live is actually pretty nice and obviously well thought out.   The memorial is in the form of an obelisk supported by three cannonballs and … Read more…